Brendan Rodgers is refusing to blame Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard for Liverpool’s title slip-up.
The Kop icon gifted Chelsea their opening goal by falling over at Anfield two weeks ago to all but hand Manchester City.
But Rodgers insists it is poor refereeing that has turned his Premier League winning dream into a nightmare, as he once again let rip at Lee Mason for wrongly disallowing Raheem Sterling’s strike at Manchester City on Boxing Day.
“It could have happened to anybody,” he said.
“It would be more unfortunate if the decision at Manchester City, when I got fined £8,000, defined the season – the offside.
“Sterling – he’s clearly onside, he’s in on goal.
“We get another goal…I knew at that time it might be significant.
“So that might define our season. It won’t be Stevie’s slip.”
Sterling’s strike would have put Liverpool 2-0 up, whilst Rodgers was also left fuming when Luis Suarez was denied a penalty late on.
Those two incidents could have helped Liverpool secure vital three points that would have left them top of the table ahead of today’s final round of fixtures.
Instead, they know that as well as beating Newcastle at Anfield, the Reds have to hope that City lose against West Ham if they are to lift their first league championship in 24 years.
And Rodgers is asking his team to fight right until the bitter end as they go in search of glory – something he insists they didn’t do before he arrived.
“One of the things that stood out for me in my last game at Swansea,” he continued, “was that Kenny Dalglish wasn’t, but one or two of the players were on holiday, in the last game, and we beat them 1-0.
“They’d lost the cup final, probably a few of them had been out during the week.
“And they came into our game, and we murdered Liverpool 1-0.
“It was one of the first things I said to the players when I came in – from the first day of pre-season to the final whistle goes at the last game, you’ll be intensely worked here.
“Then you can go away and reflect when the season’s over.
“I remind them of that all the time. This is why the training on Friday was as intense as it’s been in pre-season and why it will go right to the wire and see what happens.
“If you’re going to be a winner, you have to train. This is the end of the season when you win things.”
If Manuel Pellegrini’s side were to draw with the Hammers and Liverpool to win, the two sides would finish level on 84 points.
But because of City’s far superior goal different, only a freak FOURTEEN goal win would bring the title back to Merseyside.
And although that’s left Rodgers counting on an unlikely West Ham victory, he believes the pressure could get to City if his side take an early lead.
“It will be interesting if we make one of our quick starts,” he continued.
“Then there will be a point in the game when we’re up and they’re drawing.
“And it’s not nice, when you know that there’s another team playing that can win, and you have to not lose. It’s uncomfortable.
“I’ve seen at Chelsea, the last game of the season when they beat Wigan 8-0.
“There was a period at the beginning of the game when Wigan were better. It was a nervy one and you could sense it – the crowd, the players.
“There was a period of possession when Wigan had the ball and even though it was deemed it was going to happen, there was nervousness there.
“So it’s not over by any stretch of the imagination, and West Ham are a really good defensive unit.
“They’ve got Andy Carroll who can score goals and other players who can get goals.
“But for us, we can only do our job and keep the pressure on.
“I think it’s been a wonderful season. I’ve absolutely loved every minute of it, being involved at this end and what it involves.
“Hopefully it can be that for a few more years.”